tv Meet the Press MSNBC July 11, 2011 2:00am-3:00am EDT
you know what? maybe some day. this sunday, down to the wire on the debt limit. president obama and congressional leaders huddle together today in a rare sunday session to hammer out a deal while both sides are staking their ground. >> we do not support cuts in benefits for social security and medicare. >> we are not going to raise taxes on the american people. >> at the same time, new republicans question whether the recession is really over. a dismal jobs report puts the president on the defensive. >> we've always known we'd have ups and downs on our way back from this recession. and over the past few months, the economy's experienced some tough headwinds. >> this morning, we're going to have the very latest on the ongoing debt talks with the president's economic point man, treasury secretary tim geithner. then, our "meet the candidate" series continues. >> president obama has toured
this country. he came through iowa and all these places and made all these promises and he's broken them or left most of them unfulfilled. >> a two-term governor and now he has his sights on the white house. after early missteps, can he raise his poll numbers and raise money to break through the unsettled republican field? gop presidential hopeful tim pawlenty joins me live in studio. plus, what the debt debate means politically for republicans in 2012 and the president's own re-election effort. analysis this morning from eugene robinson of "the washington post" and nbc news white house correspondent and political director chuck todd. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good morning. breaking news in washington's effort to reach a debt reduction deal. speaker of the house john boehner issuing a surprising
statement last night, abandoning efforts to reach a far-reaching $4 trillion deficit reduction plan. this is what he said, "the white house will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes. i believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure." the rare sunday negotiating session with the president will continue as planned later today. joining me now live this morning for the very latest, the secretary of the treasury, tim geithner. mr. secretary, welcome back. >> nice to see you, david. >> what happened? >> well, this is hard. you know, it's politically very hard, but this is a grave moment for the country. we need to do something very big, very substantial to bring our long-term deficits down over time. we have to do that in a way that's good for the economy for more support because the economy is healing from the recession. it's going to require both sides to compromise. president's bringing leaders together again at the white house this evening to try to figure out how to move forward. >> what's he actually saying? because you're hearing boehner saying they're demanding tax increases, we're not going to do that. they've also said you were pedalling a bid on whether to
cut entitlement programs like medicare or social security. what's the fact? >> that latter thing is not true. the president is standing tough. he is willing to do very, very difficult things. >> like what? on medicare? >> like getting substantial savings from the budget, across the budget. defense, the rest of government, even medicare/medicaid over the long term, there are things we can do responsibly to save money in those programs and we have to do that to bring the deficits under control. but to do that, we have to have some shared sacrifice, we have to find a way to avoid shifting more of the burden on the tax system to the middle class. it's going to take a balanced approach. both sides are going to have to make compromises. and you know, one thing to republicans -- we know this is very hard to do, but they should not walk away now from trying to do something good for the country. this is very important for the country now, for the economy to be growing long term, restore confidence that washington can actually do things, solve some problems, we need both sides to come together now. >> what was the president's reaction to boehner's move? >> well, you know, the president wants to do the right thing for
the country and he recognizes to do the right thing, you have to try and do the biggest, most substantial deal possible, the deal that's going to be best for the economy. and you know, his view is we're going to keep at it. he's going to bring people together and we're going to try to push people to find areas for compromise. that's what presidents have to do that's what the leaders of the house and senate have to do. >> so, you think a grand bargain, the big deal the president is pursuing, $4 trillion in cuts over ten years, is it still possible or is it dead? >> we're going to try to get the biggest deal possible, the deal that's best for the economy, not justice in the short term, things that will help make sure americans get some tax relief they need right now, like extending the payroll tax cut, which is about $1,000 for the average family, but also things that will help make sure we have room to invest in our future and help bring those long-term deficits down over time. >> let me understand a couple bottom lines. does a tax increase, some kind of revenue increase, have to be part of this deal from the white house point of view? >> you have to have balance in the package for that to work. it's true economically and politically. republicans have told us from the beginning, they can't pass a debt limit increase, they can't
pass a budget deal just with republican votes. they need democratic votes. it's going to take democrats and republicans in both houses to do something. that's the reason why politically you have to have balance in the deal. economically, you need balance in the deal because if you try to reduce our long-term deficits without doing sensible tax reforms and close loopholes, you know, avoid shifting the burden to the middle class, then you have to do very, very deep cuts in core function of government, benefits the elderly depend on. that's unfair, it would be bad for the economy in the long term. >> let me pin you down on that point, because medicare and social security cuts, adjustments, all of those are still on the table, according to white house officials. you know democrats have been resisting this hard. leader of the democrats in the house, nancy pelosi, came out on thursday and said the following. >> we are not going to balance the budget on the backs of america's seniors, women and people with disabilities. >> be clear about this, mr. secretary. is the president willing to cut medicare benefits in order to reach a deal? >> the president is willing --
he said this from the beginning. as part of a balanced, long-term budget agreement, it gets our arms around this problem, brings this deficit down over time in a balanced way. we have to try to find ways to get more savings across the government. >> i know, but i'm asking a specific question -- >> including medicare and medicaid -- >> what would you do on medicare? >> we would find ways, and we've proposed very specific things in these talks, that to get more savings in the programs, but we're not going to do this in a way that shifts more of the burden -- >> i get it, but -- >> -- to middle class americans -- >> cutting benefits or not cutting benefits? >> we'll find sensible ways to get savings to the programs without adding to the burdens on the middle class families and the elderly that -- >> but you're not saying anything there, because you either cut benefits or don't or means test or don't or you raise the retirement age or don't. >> david, i don't get to negotiate with you. it would be fun and maybe we could work it out, but i won't tell you what a deal will require in the end. i will tell you the democrats
and the president are willing to do things that are hard politically, but only a deal that's balanced. why is it fair to ask elderly americans, middle class families, to take more of the burden if those savings are going to go to sustain special interest tax breaks, the lowest tax rates for the most fortunate americans we've seen in 50 years? why is that fair? another thing for republicans. republicans, understandably, are uncomfortable raising revenues, even on the richest americans, and they want to be confident that if they're going to do that, those revenues we raise go to reduce our long-term deficits, not sustaining programs we can't afford. that's why we have the opportunity now to do something very important and very big, because it's more reasonable for people to say now that as part of a long-term deal, reduce these deficits with shared sacrifice, you can do something good. >> all right. two more on this. do you think you have to step back and say we could go for a smaller deal here, maybe half as big as we were talking about? that's what the biden group -- the vice president was brokering
a group to do that now. is that where we are now? >> small deals are hard now too, because it requires difficult reforms, savings, cuts in things people depend on and matter. very hard to do a big deal, too. obviously, we have to pass an agreement, but the president will be working towards the largest possible deal because that's what's right for the country. >> the specific consequences of inaction and potential default -- that august 2nd date is coming. this is a big issue in congress and also among those running for president or perhaps running for president. sarah palin did an interview with "newsweek" and said this is not the apocalypse here. i'm asking you specific consequences to the united states of getting to august 2nd without raising the debt limit. >> let me make this clear, david, the united states is not going to default. we're a country that pays its bills. we're going to meet our obligations, and leadership in congress, republicans and democrats, house and senate, understand that. speaker boehner, to his credit, said from the beginning, we are not going to default as a
country, because he understands it would be catastrophic for the american economy. let me explain what happens. the longer we go into july, the more risk there will be in financial markets, more concern there is that america cannot get its act together to figure out how to solve this problem, and you'll see that reflected in higher interest rates and more concern loss of confidence. let me explain what happens on august 2nd. on august 2nd, at that point, we run out of the ability to borrow to meet our obligations. remember, we have to borrow now 40 cents for every dollar we spend. now, on august 2nd, if congress hasn't acted, we're left with the cash we have and the cash we're going to take in, and every week, starting the week of august 2nd, we have to go out and finance roughly $100 billion in maturing obligations of the government. we make 80 million checks a month to americans, 55 million people on social security benefits, millions more americans of veterans benefits, medicare/medicaid, people who supply our troops in combat, 80 million checks a month. so, on august 2nd, we're left
with cash on hand, the cash we take in, and we have to convince people to come and refinance $500 billion in maturing principal payments that come due in august. >> does that affect our credit rating, potentially? >> absolutely, and for that reason, the credit agencies around the world said if congress doesn't act by the 2nd, they will downgrade our credit, first time in history. and if that happens, you're going to see catastrophic damage across the american economy and across the global economy. it's not something we -- failure is not an option. and the leaders, to their credit, understand that. and let me just say, there is no credible way to give congress more time. there's no constitutional option, there is no delay option, there's no creative financial option. they have to act by the 2nd. >> it's a significant consequence that you're outlining here, that america's credit rating could be downgraded without a deal by august 2nd. >> and it's much worse than
that. that itself would be very damaging because that would affect the value of all americans' savings, the capacity of businesses to borrow to put people back to work. remember, 80 million checks a month we write, including people who depend on those checks to go out and buy food to meet their basic needs. >> would you have to make that decision? >> there's no alternative for congress to act by the 2nd, and they recognize it. and i'm very confident they will do that. i think what we're debating, david, is not really that. what we're debating is can we take advantage of this moment, of this opportunity? grave moment facing the nation to try to get our arms around the long-term fiscal problems in a way that's good for the economy. >> you talk about what's good for the economy. a lot of this discussion about debt is ultimately to free up space for jobs to be created. it's not happening. people are still out of work. here's the chart of the president's economic record. this is based on government information, the treasury department, u.s. bureau of labor stats. unemployment 7.3%. inauguration day, up to 9.2%. latest report, up 26%.
you see the debt figures up 35%. >> david, let me just say, that's a ridiculous table. if you step back and look at what's happening to the american economy -- remember, when the president took office, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month, the economy was declining at a rate of 5%, worst economic storm we've seen since the great depression. in fact, greenspan and bernanke and others said a greater shock than the great depression. now, the president acted, took a lot of political risk, did very unpopular things, but the economy started growing again within six months. we've had more than 2 million jobs created in the private sector since job growth resumed again. america is in a stronger position today, but we're not growing fast enough. >> you're certainly not disputing those numbers, and this is what happened with the jobs report this week. "the new york times" described it this way -- "feeble job numbers show recovery starting to stall. for the second consecutive month, employers added scarcely any jobs in june, startling evidence that the economy recovery is stumbling." basically, what you're saying is it could have been a lot worse.
has the economy stalled? >> the economy absolutely slowed in first half of the year, no doubt about that. when the economy slows, job creation will slow and that's what's happening. it slowed because, as you know, gas prices went up a lot because we had a supply disruption in the mideast. you saw some really terrible weather across the country, which slowed construction spending. state and local governments across the country are having to cut back, tighten their belts. you saw japan suffer catastrophic damage. a lot of concern out of europe still. and those facts together account for a large part of the slowdown, not all of it, but a large part of it. >> all right, but is the economy recovering still? >> i think most people, if you look at what most business economists say about the economy today, they still believe the economy is going to strengthen in the second half and strengthen into next year, but you know, our job is to make sure -- it's not fast enough now. you still have millions and millions of americans out of work, and the most important thing we can do is to make sure we're taking steps to get people back to work as quickly as we can. >> let me ask you this, the president was asked in his twitter town hall about the
economy and whether mistakes were made, and i want to show you a portion of what he said. >> so, i think people may not have been prepared for how long this was going to take and why we were going to have to make some very difficult decisions and choices. and i take responsibility for that because, you know, setting people's expectations is part of how you end up being able to respond. >> how did the president not prepare the american people well enough? you're his top economic adviser. larry summers was there. did you guys get it wrong? did you not tell him how bad it was? >> i think he's being too hard on himself, david. i think everybody understood, and we were very careful to make sure everybody understood how grave this was and how difficult it would be to fix. you know, this took a long time to build up, the problems that caused the crisis. it's going to take time to fix. think of it this way -- this was a crisis caused in part because americans borrowed too much, banks took on too much risk, we built too many homes, more than
we could afford. we were living beyond our means for a long period of time. and part of what makes this so hard, part of what makes the recovery slower is because people are going back to living within their means. they're spending less of their share of income, they're saving more, and we don't have the ability, because of the overhang in housing and the problems in the financial system, to engineer artificially a shorter recovery. >> so, to demand accountability for this president and this administration, for the fate of the economy? >> no, no, of course. ultimately, presidents are judged on -- >> okay, but mr. secretary, if that's the case, look, you've had big swings at the plate. you had stimulus, right? we were told that would keep unemployment to 8%. you had health care. you said it was critical to our economic security. the fed did its thing before it backed out. you went after housing policy. none of them have really stemmed the tide, the decline in the housing market. >> i told you -- let me just stop you there. again, the american economy was falling off the cliff in the fall of '08 in the first months of his administration, and he
put in place the most creative, the most forceful set of economic measures we have ever done as a country. and because of that, we prevented a second great depression and the economy has now been growing for more than a year and a half, more than 2 million jobs in the private sector since job creation started again. faster job creation than the last two recoveries. now, things are very hard still and we're not growing fast enough, and the president of the united states is going to keep at it to make sure that every day we are looking for more opportunities to get the economy moving again faster, but he can't do that alone. it does require congress under our constitution to be willing to legislate things that would help. for example -- and you know these examples -- if we could pass trade agreements to expand trade export growth, that would be good. if we can find ways to rebuild america, we could put more people back to work. if we could figure out ways right now to extend the tax benefits for 98% of working families, that would help for confidence. >> when do you think recovery will actually start feeling like recovery? >> i think it will take a long time still. this is a very tough economy.
and i think for a lot of people, it's going to feel very hard, harder than the experience in a lifetime for some time to come. and that is because that is the tragic effects of a crisis this deep and this bad caused by a long period of lost opportunities to do things that made the country stronger. >> before you go, your future. will you stay as treasury secretary for the balance of the president's first term? >> david, as i said, and i think i said this before, i've got a lot on my plate, and i've got a lot ahead of me and i'm going to be doing this for the foreseeable future. >> for the remainder of his first term? >> for the foreseeable future. >> so, it could be less than that. >> well, foreseeable is a complicated word. >> yeah. would you leave before an election campaign? >> david, i'm not going to make news today. i said to you before, when i decide, i'll let you know. >> i'll be like among the first 10 or 15 people. >> maybe on that list. >> mr. secretary, thank you, as always. coming up, our "meet the candidate" series continues as the race for the white house heats up. one of the first candidates to
coming up, he was a coming up, he was a two-term republican governor of minnesota. now he has his sights set on the white house. gop presidential hopeful tim pawlenty joins me live in studio, up next right after this brief commercial break. work. a living, breathing intelligence that's helping drive the future of business. in here, inventory can be taught to learn. ♪ machines have a voice. ♪ medical history follows you. it's the at&t network -- a network of possibilities... committed to delivering the most advanced mobile broadband experience to help move business... forward. ♪
we're back. our "meet the we're back. our "meet the candidate" series continues this morning with former minnesota governor tim pawlenty. welcome back to "meet the press." >> thanks for having me. >> i want to get a headline reaction from you here. you heard the treasury secretary talking about the economy, saying republicans don't have a choice. raise the credit limit or our economy is in trouble. >> he was blaming president bush, blaming the weather, blaming republicans. we're almost three years into this administration. president obama should look in the mirror to see who's to blame for the economy in its current state, and it's not doing well. and as to the debt ceiling -- >> why is he to blame? are you suggesting the president's to blame? >> of course. >> why? >> well, he's the leader of our country. he's the person who sets the tone and tempo and vision for
our country, including economic policy and he's doing things that suffocate the economy, instead of doing things to grow the economy, like cutting taxes, shrinking government, and doing things that the job providers say would actually make a difference, which is get the government off their back. >> as a republican who believes in basically boiler plate republican economic philosophy, right? cut taxes, cut regulation. even in economic boom times, the past 30 years, middle class wages have not increased. as a republican, what are you going to do about that? >> we've got to get the private economy doing. how's the obama approach working? when he ran for president of the united states, he went around the country, made all of these grand promises, the soaring rhetoric. he got to implement his plan, a stimulus bill, $800 billion plus. he said unemployment could go up to 8% if they didn't pass it. how's it working? the answer is, it's not. we've got an unconstitutional health care bill, we've got tax policy and regulatory policies our private businesses are saying are suffocating their entrepreneurial spirit, their ability to grow jobs, and he's
got us on the wrong track. you've got to do what i did in minnesota, cut taxes, bring down spending, get things in line in terms of health care that are going to bring down costs, not just expand access, and the like. those are the kinds of things that people who know what they're talking about, who are providing jobs in this country, say would make a difference. >> let's come back to the economy in a couple minutes. i want to ask about the state of your campaign, because frankly, by most accounts, it's not doing very well. here's how "the new york times" put it friday, the headline, "will republican race's first in be the first out? pawlenty, seeking to regain momentum, plants his nomination hopes squarely in iowa." are you on the ropes at this early time? >> i just announced my campaign six weeks ago, so i think it's early for that. but more importantly, these early polls are not an indicator of anything. if they were, rudy giuliani or hillary clinton would be president of the united states. they almost never predict the outcome. and when people get to know my record in minnesota, reducing taxes, cutting spending, doing health care reform the right way, no takeovers, doing pension
and pay reform and the like, i think my campaign will do quite well. >> when you talk about iowa, where the caucuses are, you've been traveling there a good deal. you said we're going to try to boost recognition. the "des moines register" poll, june 19th through the 22nd, we'll put it on the screen. it shows the top people there, romney, bachmann, your fellow minnesotan. you're down 6%. then talking about money raised, that's critical to build momentum. and the stats on that not as promising here. in the first quarter, you're at $4.2 million -- second quarter, rather, you're at $4.2 million. what gives? >> again, the early polls are not good predictors of anything. once people see my record of executive leadership -- >> you've been in iowa a lot, though. the most frequent visitor except for rick santorum. >> but most of those were for other candidates and other voices. my campaign just started six weeks ago. but again, rudolph giuliani or hillary clinton or howard dean would be president if the early polls meant anything.
>> here's something from the "los angeles times" about style. "tim pawlenty's presidential campaign rests on this question. will republican voters itching for confrontation with president obama deliver their nomination to a man who tends toward soft-spoken and bland?" >> if people want entertainer in chief, they should vote for someone else. we had three years of soaring rhetoric and a president who gave false hopes to the country. if you want somebody with executive leadership, not just rhetoric, but results on taxes, on spending, on health care, on jobs and the like, then vote for me. the other thing i would say, david, is i've got the record of toughness better than anybody else in this race. my goodness, i was the first governor in minnesota's history to shut down the government. i set a record for vetoes. i took more money out of the budget using an executive authority than all of the other governors combined in my state, so, in terms of demonstrating fortitude? >> right. >> i'm an old hockey player. i've been in more fights than the rest of the candidates combined. >> that's good that you've got a fighting spirit, but look at how the americans people are looking at washington right now.
we nearly had a government shutdown. we can't have a deal on cutting the debt because the town is so politically polarized. do you think the fact that you shut down the government in minnesota is something to brag about? do you think that's what the american people want? >> i think people want results. i've got the best record of results in this race. when it comes to principle, the dramatic moments, setting veto records or shutting down government, we have to have transformational reform in this country. the country is sinking. we need bold and courageous actions and now is the time for the republicans to stand up and fight for these values, and the last time they had the majority in congress, they didn't do that and they got thrown out, and now they need to walk the walk. >> what's your marker? i know you've got a marker. what is your marker of something you have to achieve? is it the iowa straw poll coming up next month, to test whether you're actually a viable candidate? >> well, the "des moines register" poll, as you noted, had us in sixth or seventh place. in the next 60 days, we need to show significance progress. i'm confident in the iowa straw poll that we will.
as my record gets out, i think we'll have a campaign that's prevailing not just in the iowa straw poll, but in the caucuses and beyond. >> let me ask you about your main challenger, front-runner at the moment, mitt romney, and his position on health care. in massachusetts, he passed new universal health care coverage. this is what you said back in june on fox news about him. >> i don't think we can have a nominee that was involved in the development and construction of obama care and then continues to defend it. >> so, let's be clear here, straight talk, governor. are you saying he cannot be the nominee, unelectable as the nominee of the party because of his position on health care? >> i think if you're going to prosecute the political case against president obama in one of the top three or four issues, it's going to be the direction of the country and health care, it's going to be very difficult for our nominee to be one of the co-conspirators. it's going to be difficult for him to be successful with that on his record. >> in other words, he can't be the nominee if he's got this background? >> i think it's going to be
difficult for him to beat the president with that on his record. his record is beyond just health care. it's also a question of how did he do on judicial appointments, where did we stand on bailouts? all of us will have to account for our record. i've got a record, governor romney's got a record. i've got the best conservative record in the race. >> we were talking about iowa and i was looking at an editorial in the "register," and it has here at the end, this question of how you distinguish yourself from the rest of the field. "in a competitive race," they write, "pawlenty will need something to distinguish himself." what is that? can you name one area where you break from the republican party? >> being a successful leader. again, i'm not running for comedian in chief. i'm not running for entertainer in chief. if people would like that, they should go to a broadway show or -- >> but to say i'm a successful leader does not distinguish you. that's argument, that's not fact. i'm asking you, bottom line, one area where you break with the republican party? >> well, david, for example, over my time as governor, i got a lot of flack from all sides in the debate.
one area would be i supported the minimum wage when i was governor. some republicans didn't like that. there are times where i differed with my party in other respects. but bottom line is, i've got a record, when you look at this, of accomplishment. there's a lot of people who will run around in this race and flap their jaws. they'll say i'm for cutting spending, doing health care the right way, i'm for conservative judges and down the list, but i've done these things. >> what about fellow minnesotan michele bachmann? she's beating you in the polls, has traction from the recent debate in iowa. you won't speak disrespectfully against the fellow minnesotan, but this is about distinguishing yourself from the others in the field. what makes you different than congresswoman bachmann? >> i respect her, but her record of accomplishment in congress is non-existent. it's non-existent. and so, we're not looking for folks who just have speech capabilities. we're looking for people who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting and drive it to conclusion.
i've done that. she hasn't. >> do you think she's too controversial? she has said on this program and elsewhere that this is a gangster government. she thinks the president has un-american views. do you think that reflects a temperament that are not suitable for the presidency? >> we share views, we're both conservatives. the difference is i've got executive leadership in a public setting with a record of accomplishment and results in difficult circumstances, and she has served in congress, and in that regard, her record of accomplishment is like i said, non-existent. >> what about my question, do you think it's appropriate to describe the government as a gangster government? this administration as a gangster government? >> everybody's got different rhetoric they use. the government is out of control, let's face it. it's plain to see. whether you call it a gangster government, out of control, reckless, irresponsible -- >> you think that's appropriate? >> a gangster government? >> yeah to call the administration a gangster government? >> well, i've called it incompetent, i've called them out of control, i've called them
misguided, i've called them failed. pick your choice. but the point is, this is a group of people who are disconnected from the economic needs of the people in this country. people are hurting. we've got nearly $4-a-gallon gas, we've got crushing levels of unemployment, we have a federal government that's out of control, and we have a president who has no clue. >> what would you do right now as president? here we have these debt negotiations going off the rails. what would you do right now to bring this deal home? >> well, first of all, you know, we shouldn't have gotten in this position in the first place. how did we get here? >> that's fine, but we're here. >> president obama exponentially made the deficit and the debt worse. he's essentially tripled it. in march of 2009, david, he looked the american people in the eye and said i will cut the deficit in half during my first term. >> don't forget, his republican predecessor did all the t.a.r.p., ran up the spending and the deficit. so there's a period of time where a republican or democrat would have likely responded the same way. >> let's put numbers on that. when president bush left office, the deficit was around $500 billion a year or so, and now it's $1.5 trillion or so. so, president obama tripled it when he promised to cut it in
half. >> let's bring it here and now. what do you do now? because there was a deal on the table, $4 trillion in spending cuts. that's a lot of money. that's quite an accomplishment for republicans who have been driving that. >> i've supported the approach. we need structural, real change. so obviously, the long-term goal should be to get a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. that will take some time, so you need some intermediate strategies to peg spending going forward to a percent of gdp, so we have that capped. and in the near term, you need real reform and spending reductions. i've got the most detailed plan of any candidate in the race on the table. and one more thing, get the economy growing. this is not just about cutting everything. i got criticized for having an aggressive economic plan? we need an aggressive economic plan and we have to get this economy growing if we're going to get out of this hole. >> but what about the question of what you have to be willing to cut or willing to raise? this is what david brooks wrote in his column. i'm sure you saw it this week about the republican economy "the struggles of the next few weeks are about what sort of
party the gop is -- a normal conservative party or an old protest movement that separated itself from normal governance, the normal rules of evidence and the ancient habits of our nation. if the debt ceiling talks fail, independent voters will see that democrats were willing to compromise but republicans were not. if responsible republicans don't take control, independents will conclude that republicans caused this default. they will conclude that republicans are not fit to govern." >> this is not a time for rockefellerism. we have a country that is sinking, in the verge of a crisis of the debt and ceiling issue that is one symptom of many problems. if the answer is to split the difference with the democrats and be for tax increases, for more spending, but just a little less than the democrats, that's not -- >> but that's not factual. that's not the deal on the table. there was an opportunity for $4 trillion in spending cuts, a few hundred billion dollars in terms of revenue increases, but there is this purity test, which is no
tax increases, no revenue increases at all. the treasury secretary says that's just not a balanced approach. is that good governing for republicans who control the house to say, sorry, no tax increases, period, even when they're looking at getting potentially $4 trillion in spending cuts? >> david, we don't know what the deal was because we haven't seen the details, but if you look at how we got into this mess and look at the growth of the private economy and you look at the relative growth of government spending versus the growth in tax revenues, the revenues are not what's out of balance. it's the spending that's out of balance. you can't be a fair-minded person and say look at this thing over the last 10, 20 years, and say that it is the revenues that have somehow not kept pace with the private economy. what's happened is government spending has gone up way beyond that. that's how we got in the hole. so, you have to define balance in context. >> all right, but are you saying -- would you be open to any revenue increases if it would help you get a deal on the scale of trillions of dollars of spending cuts? >> the united states federal
government is not undertaxed. it spends too darn much. >> so, the answer is no, you would not entertain that? >> we shouldn't raise taxes. >> even if it means the debt ceiling is not raised? >> that's the approach i took in minnesota. we have to draw the line in the sand. that's why i shut down government in minnesota -- >> you're willing to face the credit rating dropping and the catastrophic effects that the treasury secretary describes? >> what i'm willing to do is tell the president of the united states that if he wants the debt ceiling raised, he should do the things i described earlier and he's the one who should slow down the spending and get the thing back under control. the reforms i mentioned earlier are the right reforms and there's no objection to them in terms of the president's willingness or desire, i should say, to do those. and he won't do them. but why is he opposed to a constitutional amendment to balance the budget? why would he be opposed to that? why would anybody be opposed to that? so, why can't we ask president obama to come in that direction? he's the one who's supposed to set the tone and tempo for this country and he's not doing it. >> do you support paul ryan's approach to medicare? changing it into a voucher program or premium support program? >> as between president obama's plan, which is doing nothing,
and paul ryan's plan, if that bill came to my desk, i'd sign it, but i have my own plan, and it'd different in some respects to congressman ryan's plan. >> i want to do a couple policy notes and we only have a few minutes left. i'll go through them. first on libya, you said we've got to get gadhafi out of there. would you send ground troops there at this point? >> not necessarily. look at what president reagan did, for example, to remove governments in certain areas. you don't necessarily have to send in ground troops. when the rebels had gadhafi on the ropes in the early days, in the early hours of this, had taken over most of the country geographically, he was openly talking about leaving, if the president in that moment would have been decisive and strong and threatened or imposed the no-fly zone, my view is we could have toppled gadhafi then. instead -- >> that sounds like a different reading of what the situation was at time. tripoli always seemed difficult to get, and now by the rebels' estimation, tripoli would be hard to take. by the way, how do you do it without ground troops? >> he dithered for three to five months. >> but i'm asking what should you do?
what would you do, no ground troops? >> not necessarily. >> well, what's the not necessarily? how would you do it? >> you can go the easy way or the hard way, but now you're going. he just got indicted by the international tribunal for the equivalent of war crimes. this is a man with american blood on his hands. he killed americans. he's a terrorist. this is a guy ronald reagan tried to kill in the 1980s. >> i'm asking you how. >> the united states of america has the ability to hunt down and bring to justice -- >> so, send in special forces, if necessary? >> if you wanted to, you could kill him with a cruise missile. if you wanted, you could bring in special forces and target him. the idea that we can't find and kill moammar gadhafi and bring him to justice is ridiculous. >> one more on afghanistan. defense secretary panetta said "i believe we're in reach of strategically defeating al qaeda." do you believe that? >> well, he's got a lot of knowledge, so i'd give that deference -- >> that's a big accomplishment, isn't it? do you give credit to president
obama in terms of al qaeda? >> he's made good decisions in that regard. finding and killing osama bin laden is good leadership, but this is a multidecade commitment and it's not over yet. >> let me ask about social policy. you've notably said you're a big fan of lady gaga, and even the song "born this way." there's a lot of debate about a gay marriage pledge in iowa, and related to that, i wonder, do you agree with some of those who are behind that, that being gay is a choice? >> well, i have two teenage daughters who listen to lady gaga, so i'm subjected to it, and it has some good qualities to it. but as to gay marriage? i'm a supporter of traditional marriage between a man and a woman. i have not supported the issues of allowing gay couples to have the same benefits and public employment as traditional couples. and so, this is an issue in iowa and across the whole country,
but i've stood in favor of traditional marriage and traditional relationships. >> is being gay a choice? >> well, the science in that regard is in dispute. scientists work on that, try to figure out if it's behavioral or partly genetic. >> what do you think? >> well, i'd defer to the scientists in that regard. >> so, you think it's not a choice, that you are, as lady gaga says, you're born that way? >> well, there's no scientific conclusion that it's genetic. we don't know that. so, we don't know to what extent it's behavioral. it's something that's been debated by scientists for a long time. but as i understand the science, there's no current conclusion that it's genetic. >> all right. governor pawlenty, lots more debate to come. we'll be watching on the campaign trail. >> thank you. coming up, what does the politics of the debate mean for 2012? plus, a look at how the rest of the republican field is shaping up. analysis from "the washington post's" eugene robinson and nbc's chuck todd.
and nbc chief white house correspondent chuck todd and columnist for "the washington post," eugene robinson. welcome to both of you. well, a lot of news to go through here from our discussion so far, but let's start with our "meet the candidates," chuck. as we look at the republican field, tim pawlenty. he obviously came on this morning with a purpose. he's got to raise some visibility, he's got to raise money, and you heard him say, iowa's key now, not the caucuses, but the straw poll. >> and his chief rival is a fellow candidate from minnesota. >> yeah. >> that's who, it felt to me, is he was no longer running against mitt romney. he's almost running against michele bachmann, because she's the one stealing all of the tea party and grassroots thunder, and oh, by the way, she's from his home state. and he went a little harder on her, and it's the first time we've really heard anybody go hard at michele bachmann in this campaign. >> gene, he said her record in congress is non-existent. >> right, which i thought was amazingly tough, you know, given the republican commandment. but look, she's the one who can knock him out of this race, basically, by beating him in
iowa. and his campaign has not taken off. he's down at 6% in the polls. the $4.2 million does not give you confidence that he can really pull this off. so, he's got to catch fire. he's got to make stuff happen. and to do that, he's got to get rid of her. >> but david, he's going down the only path he can. this is it. he's right he's got to finish first or second. in the straw poll four years ago, first place was mitt romney, second place was mike huckabee, third place was sam brownback, and sam brownback didn't finish the campaign. third place, you're fired. >> he was more critical of romney, being clear, saying he would have a hard time against obama, having supported health care. but on the debt business, it's really quite interesting. i mean, willing, it seems like, to go with the most conservative line, which is, you know, default be damned, we're going to keep opposing. >> don't think this presidential campaign that's going on right now didn't have an impact -- >> sure. >> -- on this, because john boehner and the take party flank
inside his own caucus, but whatever deal he cut, if he looked like he was doing a grand bargain, and somehow, basically elevating president obama, he was going to get maligned on the presidential campaign by everybody. >> i don't think there's a single republican candidate who was cutting him any slack, actually, any slack at all on this deal. >> well, i want to come back to that in a second. one other political note, because sarah palin is being heard from again. cover story in "newsweek," and i want to pull out the portion where she talks about her prospects, which is quite interesting. we'll get that together and put that up on the screen. again, granting an interview to "newsweek." "i can win." she says "the people of america are desperate for positive change and deserving of positive change. i'm not so egotistical as to believe that it has to be me or it can only be me to turn things around, but i do believe that i can win." what is she up to here? >> i'm not going to attempt -- to crawl inside and see if she's going to do things predictably like other candidates is a mistake. it feels like she's simply trying to go out on her own
terms. you know, she didn't want the tucson response that she made when she called blood libel and all those things after the gabby gifford shooting to be the lasting impression of 2011. if she doesn't want to run, she wants that to be the message -- i could win, but i don't need it. >> but she has this quality of wanting to very much stay on the margins, be the spoiler, if that's the role, but it's completely unconventional. >> it is completely unconventional. i'm not exactly sure, beyond the influence she has now as a kind of gad fly, as a sort of political presence, i'm not sure how this path that she seems to be on gets her any more influence. i'm not sure where it gets her. she hasn't done any of the stuff that you would need to do traditional or non traditional to run for president. i don't think she's running. >> look, rush limbaugh is an incredibly influential figure in the republican party and he could never win the republican nomination.
i think that's where sarah palin is coming. she's going to be an incredibly influential figure on the conservative movement in the republican party, if that's what she wants, and i don't know that she gets nominated. she doesn't have the support among republicans to get the nomination. >> let's go back to the debt fight. gene, you wrote in your column on monday about the role that the president is playing as a negotiator, and i'll put a portion of that up on the screen. "obama's in-your-face attitude seems to have thrown republicans off their stride. they thought all they had to do was convince everyone they were crazy enough to force an unthinkable default on the nation's financial obligations. now they have to wonder if obama is crazy enough to let them." what's he come into this meeting and say? >> i think he says to speaker boehner, let's think about this again. i think he says what geithner essentially said, that maybe a big deal is easier to get than a small deal. a small deal is not going to be easy.
and he continues to push. because politically, i think the white house believes this is the winner for them, to go for the big deal -- >> yeah, the big deal. >> -- to be seen going for the big deal and then if the president -- >> the debt player. >> exactly. and then if it doesn't happen, well, he tried. i think he continues to try. >> here's the interesting thing, though, chuck. you get in -- this is inside d.c. baseball, right? but that's what you're counted on for her. the president was willing to deal on medicare, because they're thinking that creates space politically for the republicans to do a deal on taxes. what are the moving pieces there and why did that break down? >> well, it broke down because speaker boehner couldn't get an agreement on taxes. let's remember, he did not believe he was politically strong enough in his own caucus to remain leader of the house republicans, not speaker of the house, leader of house republicans. so, he backed off the deal. he's the one that pushed the president to try to do the bigger deal. he's the one that floated this idea, okay, i will try to see if i can get some tax increases,
mess around with the tax reform. let me see if i can do it. eric cantor said no, and guess what? it's no. >> and it looks like, if you listen to secretary geithner this morning and look at all the pieces here, he said no, no, we were willing to deal on medicare, on social security, we were going to stand up to our base, and by the way, do a huge $4 trillion deal. the second republican has now walked, cantor, and now boehner. they're getting ready to use this. >> yes, they definitely are. i'm fascinated by this boehner/cantor relationship, though. >> yeah. >> this is going to really be something to watch going forward, because you know, boehner was looking for the deal and cantor kept saying no, kept saying no, kept saying no. looks like no has prevailed in the republican caucus, and what does that mean for boehner's power? what does that mean for cantor's power? what does that mean for the future? very interesting. >> i'm fascinated to watch what the president does tonight, because you know, they provided two plans out there. they had plan "b" and the biden plan and that's what eric cantor supports and jon kyl supports, so that's plan "b." how quickly does the president
back off? does he say, no, let's roll that one out, too, i really want this big deal, let's go? or does he basically back down and show he was being a tough negotiator for four days? >> some of the corporate guys will say, well, you know, it takes four or five times saying no before you may get to a deal, so we'll see. we'll set up this meeting a little bit more after we take a break. but we'll take a break here and when we come back, we'll have our "trends & takeaways," a look at what we said today that was news-worthy and what to look for in the coming week, plus, the hot political stories trending this morning. final moments now with our i
final moments now with our roundtable here, and i want to go to our hot trending stories this morning, our "trend tracker." we'll put it up on the screen. not surprisingly, it is this debt standoff that is still number one, this impasse we'll be watching all day. two, the conservative marriage pledge i talked about with governor pawlenty, this in iowa. third is panetta and the al qaeda defeat comment i asked the governor about. quickly, chuck todd, on the marriage pledge that's getting talk on the internet about the language and the preamble about slavery. what i asked him about, which is also part of it, does he think being gay is a choice. what did you make of the answer? >> i guess he was trying to -- he said the science isn't clear. i believe it was something like that. and not to put words in his mouth, i assume he was trying to make in his answer, trying to keep it vague, but i think it was an odd answer and i think it will be one he's probably -- >> all right, secretary
geithner, our newsmaker this morning, made news on what's ahead on the debt impasse. watch. >> the president wants to do the right thing for the country, and he recognizes to do the right thing, you have to try to do the biggest, most substantial deal possible, the deal that's going to be best for the economy. the credit rating agencies around the world have said that if congress doesn't act by the 2nd, they will downgrade our credit, first time in history. and if that happens, you're going to see catastrophic damage across the american economy and across the global economy. >> gene, ratcheting up the warning to republicans. >> ratcheting up the warning. he's also explaining that on august 2nd, this is a real deadline, that, in fact, because two days later, bills start coming due. it's not just interest, it's interest and principal, and this rolls over week after week after week, and if we can't persuade people to roll over those t-bills, we run out of money. he made that clear. >> two others things. going with the administration
for the foreseeable future, wouldn't commit to the next term. and when asked when will recovery start feeling like recovery, he said it's going to take a long time. that's daunting from the treasury secretary. >> it is, and i've been fascinated by the economic talking points from the administration. when you have the president out there saying, you know, it may be better for people to rent rather than own, he's said that a couple times, and the treasury secretary said it's going to take a while for people to feel the recovery, i guess they're trying to say, hey, we're trying to be straight with you. this is what the environment's going to look like for a while, and it's clear that's what they're preparing the environment they're preparing to run in, which will be a tough one. >> and trying to win the argument that, yes, it's hard now, but it could have been a lot worse, which could be tough. we'll leave it there. thanks to both of you. terrific analysis. before we go, remember the popular former first lady elizabeth bloomer ford. we remember her this morning. she passed away friday at the age of 93. >> to the nation, she was better known as betty ford, and although she was sometimes referred to as an accidental
first lady, she lived her life with a great deal of purpose. she became an outspoken advocate for breast cancer awareness and later addiction, after very public battles with both. she was a pioneering role model, founding the betty ford clinic, which became a beacon of hope for those battling addiction. in 2006, she was back in the spotlight as the nation said farewell to her husband, former president gerald r. ford. this morning, we say farewell to her as our thoughts and prayers go out to her family. >> after memorial services tuesday in palm desert, california, mrs. ford will be laid to rest on thursday in grand rapids, michigan. that is all for today. we'll be back next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com